Shine Cycle Précis: The Calling

The Calling is the tenth and last planned novel in the “Game of Life” sub-series of the Shine Cycle, following The Harbor. Today’s post is a brief introduction to this planned work.

As in all of the “Game of Life” sub-series of the Shine Cycle, the setting of The Calling is our solar system in the, by now very far, future: just before the turn of the thirtieth century, more than a century after the events of The Harbor. The main and point-of-view character is still Alice Hansen, also known as Alatumbra, still far and away the oldest woman alive, the only master- or even upper-journeyman level mage Earth has had since Gondolor first invaded almost seven centuries before.

The tentative logline for The Calling is:

Alice Hansen must prevent Gondolor from suborning any of Earth’s mages, now “coming of age,” in his final attempt for revenge for previous humiliating defeats there.

In the twenty-ninth century, Earth and its solar system have been something of an island of stability in the galaxy, as every interstellar polity has undergone upheaval of some sort at least once. Alice Hansen, feeling her time beginning to grow short, has worked to train a strong cadre of mages, and her second class of students and those trained by her earlier students are reaching journeyman level. Some have also just returned from a “seasoning” tour of duty with a fleet from the New Roman Empire.

On their return, she finds, these students have been “befriended” by strangers with “new” religious and philosophical ideas, particularly about the proper use of power. She gathers her students and settles the group down for a discussion at whatever length proves necessary.

This meeting is cut short, however, by sudden news of a metaphysical-fabric disruption, causing various unlikely minor disasters in nearby stations, out in the Belt caused by departing ship with a mis-configured drive. This disruption needs urgent repair, as some of the stations serve heavy traffic, and the effects also apply to ships docked there or moving through the area, but it’s a problem that only a mage—or, if possible, a team of mages—can fix. So the group takes the next ship out.

The repair seems to go well, but when making last final checks, Alice Hansen discovers that the work on some of the parts she’d left to her students is seriously flawed. She corrects these errors, then confronts the students who might be responsible, in semi-private, during the trip home. The students are confused and initially defensive about their work, but once she explains the problem in enough detail (drawing diagrams as needed), they see their fault and realize the cause: the lingering influence of the “new friends.”

On their return to Earth, the group goes to find these “friends,” to find if they are simply misguided novices or enemy agents. One of them turns out to be Gondolor in disguise, and when Alice Hansen recognizes him he begins fighting the group, trying at first to kill or subdue them and then at length to escape, having no success. She directs the battle but does not directly take part, proving that her students are well-deserving of the rank of advanced journeymen, and some even of mastery rank, and that they will be worthy successors once she has to move on.

Do you have any thoughts about my plans for The Calling?

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